Growing up watching Australian TV shows and movies, we – that is, my generation and before, who were watching a surprising amount of Australian content – unintentionally developed a picture of Australia. A lot of water, beaches and the sea, unusual animals like kangaroos and alligators, sunshine, and great weather. Essentially, a lot of landscapes and positive vibes. As Men at Work said it themselves, it is “the land down under”.
When we start talking about Australian speculative fiction, we realize that it covers a broad genre of books, movies, tv shows, and other media. Once we take a look back at our childhood, we can realize how Australian TV shows that fall into the category of speculative fiction have actually been a part of growing up. Children from various places and generations were able to take a glimpse at Australian science fiction tv shows and form their own opinion and picture of Australia.
By looking at kids tv shows such as Ocean Girl, H2O: Just Add Water, Wicked Science and The Elephant Princess we can acknowledge how much of an impact Australian science fiction and fantasy shows have had around the globe over decades. Different generations were able to watch various approaches of sci-fi characters and touch upon individual topics and stories.
Ocean Girl and H2O: Just Add Water were able to convey similar plots and themes to different generations. Cleo, Emma, Ricki, and Bella are the protagonists of H2O: Just Add Water and Neri, Jason, and Brett of Ocean Girl. The idea of mermaids, underwater civilizations and have been an ongoing myth for centuries such as the island of Atlantis. According to the myth, the island was submerged into the Atlantic Ocean for eternity. Thus, people from all ages – young to old – were all intrigued about stories of the unknown of the ocean and eager to watch mystic creatures such as mermaids and mermen. These two TV shows were able to incorporate these interesting myths and motifs in tv shows for kids to watch and teach them about these centuries’ old legends. The beautiful landscapes and the ocean were a bonus to the nice plot.
Wicked Science on the other hand was able to touch upon the topic of science. It’s a story about regular teenagers who turn into geniuses. An experiment which results in an accident turns the two high-school students Toby and Elizabeth from regular teenagers to kids with scientific superpowers. Whether to use them for good or for bad is up to their own decision. Thus, the tv show teaches kids a valuable lesson to use whichever power they might have for good. Simultaneously, we can follow these school kids along with their everyday life such as friendship problems, family issues and first love encounters.
Lastly, The Elephant Princess is a fantasy tv show about an average teenager, Alex, who one day finds out that she is not the person she always thought she was. It turns out she is the long-lost heir to the throne of a fictional Indian kingdom called Manjipoor. Alex’s life turns upside down and the viewers get to watch whether Alex will be able to master her life between saving the kingdom of Manjipoor and her regular life back home in the Australian suburbs.
All these TV shows were able to draw the interest of children from various places and backgrounds. The key element was the mix of the successful depiction of science fiction and fantasy motifs which were connected to the Australian culture and landscape. Once incorporated and displayed this way, the success was almost inevitable – and generations of children knew of Australian speculative fiction before they’d even heard the term!